Is Santa Claus Cause For Controversy?


Source: Insider

The idea of the “War on Christmas” and the politicizing of holidays have been topics of debate for over a decade. Some are concerned with “keeping Christ in Christmas,” feeling as though Christian Americans have deviated from the original celebration of the birth of Jesus while others have no issue shying away from the religious aspect of Christmas. But the real and more important question is, how does Santa Claus play into the controversies that surround the merry holiday? 

The legend of Santa can be dated all the way back to the third century, when Saint Nicholas “became the patron saint of children,” according to Through the stories of his generosity, he became the most popular Saint in Europe by the end of the Renaissance period. By 1809, “Sinter Klaas,” the shortened Dutch version of Saint Nicholas, became further popularized by American author, Washington Irving, who promoted “St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York,” according to 

Now, of course, most children do not believe Santa to be a saint and instead believe Christmas to be a magical holiday, with Santa’s elves having hand-constructed their gifts– much different from Saint Nick’s Christian acts of charity that earned him his title. Society has developed rather elaborate stories about Kris Kringle, claiming that he keeps lists of “naughty” and “nice” children in attempts to motivate good behavior in return for gifts. For those children whose behavior does not measure up, legend has it that they will receive coal in their stocking. However, the majority of children are not truly met with coal on Christmas morning, as many adults enjoy the holidays as much as children do and understand their role in keeping the magic alive. 

While many parents of young children encourage their little ones to use their imagination when it comes to Christmas and Santa, certain people feel as though “promoting a belief in Santa has long-term detrimental effects on our children and society as a whole,” as Kelsey Johnson writes in the Washington Post. This is not to say all parents condemn Santa, as CNN reported in 2017 that about 85% of 4-year-olds believed in Santa Claus. Naturally, as kids age, they begin to have their doubts about a magical man coming down their chimney, but Dr. Vanessa LoBue of Psychology Today acknowledges that they can figure this for themselves, and feel a sense of pride in knowing a secret that other children their age may not know. There are many parents and scientists like Dr. LoBue who agree with this way of approaching Santa instead of discouraging it from the get-go.

Source: NBC News

Although most could admit that they have never given Santa Claus’ sexuality a second thought, a four minute Youtube video advertising Norway’s postal service got people riled up over the “sexualizing” of Santa. The advert tells the story of a relationship between Santa and his love interest, Harry, whom he is only able to visit for a brief moment once a year on the night of Christmas. The company Posten advertises their service by having Santa send all of his gifts by mail rather than going house to house, allowing him to spend time with Harry on Christmas.   Needless to say, the heartfelt commercial based on the 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally,” had no intentions of promoting Santa in sexual nature, and instead was produced to celebrate the 50 year mark since the decriminlization of homosexuality in Norway. It does, however, bring up an interesting point that Katie Edwards of IndependentUk mentions, “Christmas and Santa have been sexualized for years already, and few people have batted an eye.” She references Halloween costumes and Christmas songs containing innuendos such as the classic “Santa Baby.” 

Based on the varying opinions on the traditions of Santa, it is clear that there is not one clear answer as to how families should approach their beliefs. But due to the fact that Santa Claus has been a part of pop culture since the 18th century, he’s not going  anywhere anytime soon.